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Researchers make wearable & washable computers a reality
Jan '13
Wearable and washable computers which could be used for medical and military purposes are one step closer after a prototype garment which integrates electronic micro-devices into the core of yarns was produced by Nottingham Trent University.

Researchers from the University’s Advanced Textiles Research Group have produced the garment using light emitting diodes (LEDs) to showcase the unique application of the technology, which could transform the manufacturing of smart and interactive textiles.

Current techniques involve the insertion of the electronic module after the clothing has been produced, which results in it being inflexible and requires it to be removed before washing.

The advanced manufacturing of Micro Electronic Textiles (MET) truly integrates the electronics into the fibre by embedding sensors, smaller than the size of a pinhead, into the heart of the yarn. This process produces a smart textile which retains the fabric’s basic characteristics of being tactile, flexible, machine washable and can be tumble dried.

The new technology could be used in the monitoring of chemical reactions and vital signs for medical and sporting assessments. It could also have an impact on illuminated textiles in fashion by creating malleable mood fabrics.

Professor Tilak Dias, who leads the Advanced Textiles Research Group at Nottingham Trent University, said: "The prototype uses LEDs but the technology can also result in variations of washable wearable computers that can monitor vital signs for wellbeing, provide intelligent textiles for the military, have invisibility cloaking capabilities, and create flexible and conformable displays.

"Although the concept is technology led, its focus is around design accessibility."

Nottingham Trent University

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